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This March, teams across the University are getting involved in MND24, a project to raise money for the University’s Euan MacDonald Centre which carries out important research into motor neurone disease. Here Bulletin shares more about the initiative and how you can get involved.

The University’s Euan MacDonald Centre plays a vital role in researching motor neuron disease (MND). The condition is terminal, with the average life expectancy after diagnosis, just 18 months. The causes are still unknown and currently, there is no cure.

The Centre, named after University alumnus Euan who is living with the condition, is a 200-strong network of researchers looking to find out more about MND, create new drugs to treat the condition and improve the quality of life of those living with the disease. It was founded thanks to philanthropy and still relies on support from donations to carry out its research. One such initiative is MND24.

Raising funds

Founded in 2020 by Sandy Stirling, MND24 encourages participants to raise money by undertaking a challenge for 24 hours at any point in March 2022.

After his father was diagnosed with motor neuron disease in May 2016 and sadly passed away in March 2019 at the age of 83, Sandy wanted to help fund the research into the disease:  “MND is an incredibly cruel disease, and after seeing how my dad so bravely fought back at his illness, I wanted to do something to help fund research in finding a cure for this appalling disease.”

Inspired by Rob Wainwright, who fundraised for My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, Sandy decided to raise awareness of MND as a tribute to the memory of his wonderful dad and committed to a 12-hour cycle around Al Qudra, Dubai, on the first anniversary of his dad’s death.

During those 12 hours, Sandy had about 130 people come and join him. This then inspired him not only to double his challenge the following year, but to grow his efforts into a global event: “Having watched my father and family deal with this terrible illness, I have been inspired to do all I can to help others around the world suffering with MND.

“I hope this event not only raises awareness for MND but helps to find a cure for MND. By inspiring people to take part, and get out there exercising, it also helps to deal with the kind of mental health challenges we have all faced through the global pandemic whilst doing something for an incredibly worthy cause.”

Design your own challenge

People can join in, either individually or in groups, with their own fundraising activity to raise money for MND research, with the Euan Macdonald Centre named as a beneficiary.

Anyone can take part, anywhere in the world and participants are encouraged to get creative with their activities, whether it’s cycling, like Sandy, or something else entirely, with how to spend their 24 hours.

Helen Nickerson is Science and Strategy Manager in the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine. She explains why the MND24 campaign is important to her: “The MND24 campaign was well timed as my uncle was recently diagnosed with MND and has progressed rapidly. As he and my aunt don’t live nearby we feel pretty hopeless being unable to help. This is one way to show our support.”

While many people choose to focus their activities on a sport, Helen is hoping to host 24 hours of crafting: “I have some crafty friends and colleagues and this year I was inspired by a very talented colleague, Angela Ingram, to learn to crochet. I am awful at it but it is quite fun. I am going to host a craftathon – hopefully with enough of us this will be three to four hours, to make 24 collective hours of crafting. I will, of course, provide tea and coffee, snacks, chat and entertainingly bad crochet examples!”

Helen has been struck by how many people want to get involved: “I am still in the process of organising everything but those I have approached have been really willing and enthusiastic to help. We are figuring out if we can sell what we make and add to our fundraising total.”

If you fancy getting involved, Helen is happy to have you: “Come craft with us! Or whatever you enjoy doing consider turning into a fundraiser. MND is a devastating disease and there are a lot of promising research leads so it is a great time to give research a boost!”

How to take part

Once you have decided what you are going to do as part of MND24 you’ll need to register on the JustGiving website.

Visit the site, click start fundraising and follow the step-by-step instructions: JustGiving

Please tick the box allowing ‘the charity’ to contact you when you set up your JustGiving page. This will allow the University Fundraising team to provide advice and support for your fundraising activity; let you know how your donation is helping; and to invite you to events, including their exclusive Thank You event.

Then you can share the page with friends, family and colleagues and encourage them to donate or take part themselves.

Once you’ve done this, the fundraising team would love to know your plans for MND24, you can email or call 0777 299 7429 and she’ll be delighted to support your fundraising activity.

You can find out more about MND24 on the University Fundraising website.

Photograph: Maverick Photo Agency; Douglas Robertson